Vitamin D is a prohormone, and it acts like a hormone but is called a vitamin. It is important we run vitamin D levels on all patients and monitor them yearly. Blood testing is currently the best method to determine the levels. Everyone should be evaluated. I prefer levels between 60-100 ng/mg.
So how do we get adequate vitamin D3?
1. Through food source however usually not the best because Vitamin D is usually added to food at minimal levels and cannot correct a deficiency.
2. Vitamin D supplementation – the amount depends on your current levels of vitamin D. If you are low, then need to take more than someone who is not deficient.
3. Exposing your skin to the sun’s energy. The sun’s rays interact with the protein in the skin, and it is converted in the kidneys to the active form of vitamin D3. However, those who have kidney disease may not be able to convert it and we commonly see vitamin D deficiency in these types of patients.
Vitamin D3 is fat soluble and stored in fat tissue. It is slowly released into the bloodstream as needed. So, at high intake levels Vitamin D can become toxic since it is stored, however it is very rare. Mainly we see vitamin deficiencies in patients. Even patients who claim to be outside and, in the sun frequently have vitamin D deficiency which may be due to wearing sunscreen which blocks out the sun or living in the northern hemisphere where good direct sunlight is weak. Sunlight in Florida is quite different from sunlight in Illinois.
What does Vitamin D do for us?
It is mainly involved in the absorption and metabolism of CALCIUM. Calcium regulation affects many of our organs, not just the bones. It affects our kidneys, liver, heart, skin, brain, mood, and energy. It is, however, very important for bone health. It stimulates the absorption of calcium from the intestine and moves it to the bones. Whereas a vitamin D deficiency moves calcium from the bones to the bloodstream to support other functions thereby weakening the bones. Vitamin D affects cell growth and differentiation. It also has immune regulatory effects.
So, what are the effects of Vitamin Deficiency?
There is a strong link between low levels of vitamin D and the development of cancer. Vitamin D intake can help prevent the spread of cancer and the development of new cancers. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with osteoporosis because with a deficiency calcium leaks out of the bones. Vitamin D is implicated in mood disorders, especially depression and SAD (seasonal affective disorder). Also associated with scleroderma, multiple sclerosis, hypertension, heart disease, endocrine disorders like PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), skin disorders like psoriasis, eyes, and teeth.
Optimize your health by maintaining good levels of Vitamin D which may be achieved by taking the appropriate dose and getting into the sun!